The two opposing viewpoints of the debate are evident in society’s attitudes toward the problem of old age. Religion’s methodology is to improve the quality of life. Thus, the elderly are encouraged to remain active, and to disseminate their wisdom to young people. In other words, the elderly should be venerated and tolerated, rather than tossed aside as useless. Once encompassed by death, the elderly, according to Religion, will experience eternal life, the gift of faith.
Science chooses to confront old age from the medical angle. Science, as it has already demonstrated, can increase the life span by means of ferreting out disease, by the application of drugs, and by improving nutrition. Eventually, Science will increase the life span of human beings to the point of virtual immortality.
Religion asserts that only God can offer eternal life and that when mankind, in the name of Science, assumes the role of God, death is the inevitable outcome. On its part, Science asserts there is no evidence of God, therefore Science is mankind’s only hope of defeating death.
As previously pointed out, the debate goes on and on. More than likely, it will never be resolved. For neither Science nor Religion can stop death. Myriads of people die every day, some from disease, some from warfare, some from starvation, and some from old age. Science is impotent to stop the cycle. And Religion operates on hope, the hope that there is life after death. Hope is all Religion has because Religion can’t stop death either.
In the end, Peacock’s observation was just that, an observation. Only time will tell if he was correct or not. Either Science will conspire to somehow wipe out mankind by means of a new-fangled biological or chemical contraption or, as Religion has warned, God will lose patience with his creatures and destroy them lock, stock, and barrel. Of course, there’s a third possibility. The situation will remain forever as it is now, with people like Thomas Peacock waiting for Science to exterminate the world.